Jaguars should next sign with DJ Chark after tagging Cam Robinson

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (17) at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (17) at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jacksonville Jaguars showed how much they value left tackle Cam Robinson when they used the franchise tag on him. They should next make an effort to retain wide receiver DJ Chark, who is set to hit the open market on March 16, when the new NFL year begins.

Clubs only get one franchise tag and it made sense for the Jags to use it on Robinson and not Chark. After all, Robinson is coming off a season in which he allowed just one sack on 856 pass-blocking snaps and posted a career-high Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 76.6. Moreover, the tag for offensive linemen is cheaper than the one for wide receivers and even though Robinson got it for the second year in a row, it cost less than using it on Chark.

That doesn’t mean the Jaguars should let Chark walk away in free agency though. Signing him should be one of the team’s top priorities in the upcoming days. The offense took a hit and lacked someone who could stretch the field once he got hurt.

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson already said that he would want to have Chark back, and if the team’s brass really wants to, they can make it happen. After all, they still have plenty of cap space even after slapping Robinson with the tag, so they should have no trouble making him a competitive offer.

What kind of offer should the Jaguars make to WR DJ Chark?

Although Chark is coming off a season-ending injury, he’s expected to have demand in free agency. Evan Massey of NFL Analysis Network says the Indianapolis Colts and Las Vegas Raiders are interested in him. Jordan Schultz of the Pull Up Podcast says three clubs are “prepared to recruit/pay legit money” to sign the wide receiver.

The fact that teams are ready to fork out money for Chark should incentivize the Jaguars to keep him. After all, he showed he can be a 1000-yard receiver back in 2019 but injuries and ineffective quarterback play have held him back. Moreover, he hasn’t had any setbacks in his recovery and is already running routes with Trevor Lawrence.

Since Chark is coming off a serious injury, contract negotiations could become tricky. Although he won’t likely ask for top-market compensation, signing him won’t be cheap either. Getting a deal that pays him an annual average of $17 million seems unrealistic. Something along the lines of $10/12 million per year seems more realistic and the Jaguars’ brass will have to decide whether they will offer him a one-year deal, or a long-term one.

The advantage of signing a one-year, prove-it deal is that it gives Chark the chance to rehabilitate his stock and get an even better year next offseason. If he wants to bet on himself, that’s the route he should take but it would also be perfectly fine if he wants the security that comes with signing a multi-year contract.

The Jaguars still have a few days to touch base with Chark, so there’s still a chance they can reach a deal. Signing a wide receiver like Amari Cooper or Allen Robinson would give their offense a boost but do you know what would be even better? Signing one of them and pair him with Chark.

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